South Coast meets national airline to rescue Margate’s airport

2011-01-31 00:00

NEGOTIATIONS to restore regular flights to Margate Airport are under way after a meeting between members of the Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM), Ugu South Coast Tourism and a prominent national airline was held on Friday.

According to Ugu South Coast Tourism’s general manager for marketing and eventing, Hilda Gabriel, the airline is “keen and interested” in taking over the mantle from Studio 88 Aviation as Margate Airport’s sole operating airline.

This comes after Studio 88 pulled out of its involvement with the airport earlier this week, mainly because of a lack of support from businessmen.

“The meeting went very well and we are very positive,” said Gabriel.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and all of the relevant stakeholders will have to pull together on this.”

Gabriel confirmed that the airline is looking at conducting a trial flight just after Easter and will begin advertising flights to and from O.R. Tambo International Airport three months before the first flight.

“I am extremely confident that they will do the route,” said Gabriel.

“Whether or not they keep doing it will be up to us.”

Gabriel added that the airport would seek to attract flyers from the South Coast, Kokstad and the Eastern Cape.

The availability of conference facilities near the airport has been given early consideration, according to Gabriel.

She added that it is likely that flights to and from Johannesburg will happen two or three times a week at first.

It appears that one 50-seater aircraft will be used in the initial stages of the project.

Hibiscus Coast municipal manager Sbu Mkhize, who conducted the meeting, said it is important at this stage to conceal the name of the airline, but added that he is “very excited” about what he has heard.

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